On Tuesday, the NCAA officially announced a new enforcement structure that takes aim at a number of things the organization has been criticized for in recent years.
From the first paragraph of the NCAA’s release: “The Division I Board of Directors today adopted an overhauled enforcement structure that creates additional levels of infractions, hastens the investigation process and ratchets up penalties for the most egregious violations.”
You can read the entire release if you like — and the reactions to it from Dennis Dodd and Eamonn Brennan are worth the click as well — but there are really three points that you need to take out of this:
1. There is a new violation structure that is broken up into four tiers: Level I (severe breach of conduct), Level II (significant breach of conduct), Level III (breach of conduct), and Level IV (Incidental issues). The intent here is to eliminate the wiggle room found within simply designating a violation as major or minor. It will take awhile to iron out exactly what the difference is between a severe and a significant breach of conduct, but the differing designations are noteworthy.
2. Head coaches are now responsible for everything that happens within their program. No longer can they plead ignorance; they are guilty until proven innocent. Seriously:
Penalties in the previous structure relied on whether the head coach knew of the violations or whether there was a “presumption of knowledge.” But under the new structure, rather than focus on knowledge or the presumption of it, the bylaw will be amended to presume only responsibility. Accordingly, if a violation occurs, the head coach is presumed responsible, and if he or she can’t overcome that presumption, charges will be forthcoming.
That’s strongly worded, and also a smart move. If head coaches are going to be the highest-paid people on the staff, than they should also be the ones that take the most risk if a violation should occur.
It’s also worth noting two other changes that have been made: coaches and schools can be charged with different levels of violations, and the sanctions that come with those violations (recruiting restrictions or suspensions) will follow a coach to a new school.
3. The NCAA wants their decisions to be more transparent and expedient. They want a more clearly defined punishment structure. They want people to understand why some things take a long time to hash out, and they also want to “lower their ticket times”, so to speak. That’s a good thing for everyone involved.
Whether or not this will have the desired effects is yet to be seen. And whether or not the NCAA is willing and able to actually enforce these rules on the richest programs is something that needs to be proven; we’re allowed to be skeptical at this point.
This is a step in the right direction, however.